Analysis Paralysis is where you can’t make any forward progress because you bog yourself down in details, tweaking, brainstorming, research and … anything but just getting on with it. Sound familiar?
It’s something I struggle with. Partly out of fear of failure, partly because I love the idea-generation phase of projects, mostly because I am an anal geek on occasion. The very worst form of Analysis Paralysis is at the organisational level. If the company you work for spends more than an hour a week in meetings you just might have the organisational version.
There is hope though, even for chronic cases.
I launched this blog quickly. It took about a day from the decision to
launch to having my first RSS subscribers. This was a strange thing for me. I knew if I didn’t just get something up I probably would never do it at all.
Rather than spend an age tweaking and agonising I put together what you see as best as I could knowing that there are some things I can change post launch.
It’s not actually about setting your sights low, or dropping your personal standards. What you have to do is identify those things you have to get right from the get-go, those items that do need analysis, and what can be fixed later.
While it is perfectly natural to want to spend time thinking about a project, especially one with an element of risk, there comes a point where any more thinking is counter-productive and you need to start making some progress.
- What do you absolutely have to do for the project to be a success?
- What tasks can absolutely not be put off while later?
- What are the most painful items to change post launch?
- What could realistically go wrong?
In the programming world this is about setting your top priorities, the stuff you absolutely must get right and that will be difficult to refactor at a later date. For blogging, and launching a new blog especially, it is about getting the fundamentals right. Hosting. Blog software (I recommend WordPress). Domain name. Feed URL. Stats. Contact form. Good-enough design. URL structure. Stuff that is a pain to migrate from down the line. Then just get writing.
With procrastination it always comes down to just doing it but discovering the reasons why you aren’t (other than being a lazy git making excuses!) can be very helpful in getting your sorry behind working. Analysis Paralysis often comes from learned behaviour over several years. Either it has proven beneficial, so you do a little more thinking and planning each time, or not enough planning has caused problems so each occasion you get a little more cautious.
Planning is good. Failure to plan is planning to fail. But too much can be as crippling as not enough.
It never fails to surprise me how different the world seems when my analysis faces reality. We all get some things right while other things seem to come from outer-space and no amount of thinking would have predicted it. Thinking on your feet is often as important as any amount of analysis.
- Set a deadline and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to put it so far in the future we will all be flying around with personal jet packs.
- Partner with or get the second opinion of someone a little more reckless – my go-to hot-head is Nick Wilson. I’m starting to think my analysis paralysis has rubbed off on him though, heh.
- Get used to making decisions, it gets easier with practice. Start with small decisions (“caramel macchiato” vs “double-shot-latte”) and work up to the biguns.
- Do one of the tasks on your list, then another. Easy or hard, doesn’t matter. Gain some momentum.
Finally, Stop thinking about it and start doing something.